MOTELLIERS are calling for greater assistance from the City of Greater Bendigo as the financial burden of the COVID-19 pandemic becomes harder to bear.
The Bendigo Motel Association has identified a rates reduction as a way the city council could ease the pressure on motel owners.
It comes as another year's rates loom and measures like JobKeeper and the rent moratorium near their end.
The City of Greater Bendigo offers rate deferrals as part of its hardship arrangements.
"The city considers each request for rate deferral on an individual basis, considering their unique needs and the amount of rates they are paying," Andrew Cooney, the city's corporate performance director, said.
Specific fees and charges related to the accommodation sector had also been waived, where possible.
Motel association vice-president Brent Curran said being able to defer rates payments had been useful.
"But it's still got to be paid," he said.
He said motel operators had been hoping for a rate reduction, given the limited trading opportunities the sector had in the previous 12 months.
"Tougher times in some businesses are still to come," Mr Curran, the co-owner of the Tea House Motor Inn, said.
He said the gains accommodation providers had made since restrictions eased did not cover the pain they had endured in the rest of the financial year.
What's more, the bills were stacking up as relief measures were winding back.
"Everything's coming at once now," Mr Curran said.
He said council spending on a shade structure for the Hargreaves Mall and a cooling system for the bats in Rosalind Park was "a bit hard to take" when accommodation providers were seeking a little bit back.
The motel association has put its concerns to the city as a group. Association members have also reached out to the city for hardship assistance, individually.
Association president Kristyn Slattery said some of the members who had sought assistance had received an adjustment; others had not.
"Our pain is more significant than they are perhaps understanding," Ms Slattery said.
She last month warned accommodation providers were "heading to the edge of a cliff" as the end of supports like JobKeeper approached.
Mr Cooney said council was focused on facilitating a return to better trading conditions for the entire business community through investment in events, grants, services and critical community infrastructure.
He said councillors were guided by the principles of those experiencing hardship, social and economic support, long-term community sustainability, operational efficiency and delivery of capital projects in developing the 2020-21 budget.
"Blanket rates waivers are not the most effective way to provide relief to businesses, because not all businesses are experiencing financial hardship," Mr Cooney said.
While the accommodation sector had undoubtedly been affected by the pandemic, Mr Cooney said council chose to pursue a targeted response to financial hardship because it was agreed to be the fairest approach.
"Accommodation is not the only sector to be affected by COVID-19 and it would have been unfair to create a special response for one sector," he said.
He said council decided the more effective way to support businesses through the pandemic was to make allowances for businesses on an individual basis.
"While council is acutely aware of the financial pressure many households and businesses are under, the community relies on the many services we provide and subsidise," Mr Cooney said.
"Local businesses and their employees benefit from the contribution of council's investment in the economy."
He encouraged any businesses experiencing financial hardship to contact the city.
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